A gazillion days ago I mentioned the Glasgow Necropolis, and that I'd write about it soon. I just have to stop making statements like that. Although I've been busy, I could have dashed off an entry or two about something other than necropolises (or necropoleis
for those people afraid of sullying the language by using English regular plurals on Wörter
borrowed from other Sprachen
). Anyway, today I bring you a few words (and fewer pictures) about the Glasgow Necropolis
The term "necropolis" really just means "cemetery" (preferably large, fancy and ancient). The Victorian craze for impressive burial monuments led to an enthusiastic adoption of the concept, and wealthy Glasgow was no exception. In 1831, land near Glasgow cathedral was converted into a cemetery, modeled upon Père Lachaise in Paris. Some 50,000 are now buried there; I believe 100% of them are dead. At the top of the hill stands a monument to John Knox
, hero of the Reformation in Scotland. Built 253 years after his death, it features a brief summary
of his anti-Popery heroism. Broken floodlights around the monument are a not-so-subtle reminder that not all residents of Glasgow are pleased with this substantial monument to anti-Popery.
On our first day in Glasgow, we were too late to visit the Necropolis; large iron gates prevented us from crossing the Bridge of Sighs to the Necropolis itself. But we were very eager to get there... here's a picture I already posted, featuring Mrs. Dunce's enthusiasm for the Necropolis. The Knox monument is at the top of the photo.
But once Sunday morning came, we had time to visit the Necropolis. We had it mostly to ourselves, at least if you only consider the living. On our rambling way up the hill, the less serious of our group felt compelled to pose before a particularly impressive monument:
There was quite a view from the very top:
As we were looking around the Knox monument, we were further reminded of Glasgow's sectarian heritage: the sounds of a drum and fife band began playing somewhere off in the distance, probably warming up for the Rangers match later that day. No, we weren't planning to be anywhere near the Rangers match, but were instead using our few remaining hours to see the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (I'll try and convinve Mrs. Dunce into writing a guest post on that topic. I think she probably has more to say than I do).
I took a bunch of pictures at the Necropolis too (all the above are from Mrs. Dunce) but have somehow misplaced them. Par for the course, really. Fortunately others have succeeded where I have failed; for example, there are some very nice black&white photos here. And a very good (brief) article by Glasgow Necropolis expert Ronnie Scott here. Or there's always his book. Or even his very recently unveiled theory that the Necropolis itself is a giant Masonic emblem, symbols within symbols within symbols (article link)